Newcastle Falcons help Millie with HITZ programme

Monday 21 March 2022

One of the aims of the Premiership Rugby HITZ programme is to help participants improve their life chances, just like Millie did when she joined Newcastle Falcons.

HITZ is Premiership Rugby’s flagship education and employability programme, working with over 2,000 14-to-23-year-olds across England every year with the support of the CVC Foundation and Wooden Spoon, and is delivered with official education partner SCL Education Group.

The programme uses the power of community alongside rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline, and sportsmanship to support young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) back into education, training, apprenticeships and/or employment.

Millie is just one inspirational young person we will be celebrating during round 21 of the Gallagher Premiership (March 25-27). All matches during this weekend will be dedicated to the award-winning community programmes we run. These benefit more than 250k people across the UK every year, and we will be shining the spotlight on some of the individuals supported to celebrate their stories.

Education for Millie was difficult growing up. Her dad leaving her mother to raise her and her brothers alone resulted in an increasingly negative impact on Millie’s mental health. She lacked confidence and became anxious with periods of depression, not helped by the bullying she experienced during secondary school. This left Millie doubting her own abilities, and was detrimental to any ambitions she held about her future.

During a show of strength Millie decided to improve her career opportunities and work on her mental health. This led to her joining the HITZ programme. Once onboard, Millie started to excel, not only focusing on academic qualifications but also on her mental wellbeing. Each step along the way she developed further and soon blossomed, exuding a new-found confidence.

Opportunity presented itself for Millie at a HITZ employability day at Kingston Park Stadium. Here, she was able to put the interview prep and mock interview skills she had learnt on the course to the test. She impressed the interview panel, passing with flying colours, to secure a job on match days with the retail team in the club shop. In this role Millie implements skills she learns through HITZ which further increases her confidence. All of this has contributed to Millie receiving a ‘HITZ Student of the Month’ accolade and positive feedback from the Falcons club shop manager.

Millie says: “HITZ is a place I can be myself. I have fun, laugh and improve my academic skills. I am now more confident, and it has helped my mental health. The opportunity to gain work experience at the Newcastle Falcons shop has improved my communication, organisational and time management skills.”

With ambitions to join the Police force, Millie is committed to continuing with her HITZ Level 2 qualifications in Protective Services alongside her retail position. She plans to progress onto a Level 3 programme at Newcastle College to complete her qualifications and secure her dream career supporting young people in her community.

Wayne Morris, community & corporate social responsibility director at Premiership Rugby, says of Millie’s story: “We are delighted to be able to support Millie work towards achieving her career goal. Learning through community programmes like HITZ provides a different approach to education that can ignite aspirations. Academic qualifications together with the employability skills delivered by the coaches help young people to carve out better life chances.”

Since its inception in 2008 the HITZ programme has helped over 20,000 14–23-year-olds, like Millie, with 75% completing the HITZ learning academy. A huge 80% of participants have expressed improvements in life skills such as confidence and resilience. It is these new-found skills that help 80% of the participants who complete the programme to go straight on to education, employment, or training.

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